The Hans Christian Andersen Center

Religious motifs : Overview. Search. About religious motifs

See also Heathens


Faith, superstition, ritual, myth

Example 1:

What happened to man when the Angel of Death came to him? What could Death be? The body became decayed. And the soul? Yes, what was the soul? What became of it? Where did it go? "To the life eternal," the comforting voice of religion said. But what was the transition? Where did one dwell, and how? "In heaven above," said the pious people; "it is there we go." "Above?" repeated the Wise Man, and gazed up at the moon and stars. "Up there?"

From the earthly globe he saw that "above" and "below" could be one and the same, depending upon where one stood on the revolving earth. And if he ascended as high as the earth's loftiest mountains rear their peaks, there in the air that we below call clear and transparent – "the pure heaven" – would be a black darkness, spread over all like a cloth, and the sun would have a coppery glow without giving forth rays, and our earth would lie wrapped in an orange mist. How narrow were the limits of the mortal eye, and how little could be seen by the eye of the soul! Even the wisest knew little of that which is the most important of all to us.

Example 2:

Christianity gave him words of promise of an eternal life in the Bible, but he wanted to read it in his book; and there he could see nothing about it.

Comment on this quote: The wise man cannot get true knowledge about the Christian belief in immortality in his book. This is similar to the bewitched Kay in "The Snow Queen"; The splinter in his eye made him a very penetrating (!) observer, but this cold rationality turned out useless, when it came to the matters of belief – he was unable to make the word Eternity.
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